The Port of Vancouver USA doesn’t just talk the talk when it comes to the development of green energy in the Pacific Northwest. Now the port walks the walk.

The Port of Vancouver has purchased green e-certified Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) in order to reduce the carbon footprint associated with its electricity consumption. The port has purchased the equivalent of 60 percent of its estimated annual electricity usage, for the buildings in which it controls the utilities, through RECs.

Through its purchase, the port will be avoiding the emission of approximately 1,159 metric tons of carbon dioxide associated with conventional energy production.

To put that in perspective, it is the same environmental impact as driving a car roughly 4.7 million miles; Recycling more than 10.4 million aluminum cans; Recycling more than 1.7 million pounds of newspaper; or taking more than 370 cars off the road annually.

In recognition of that commitment, the port has been certified as a member of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership Leadership Club. While other ports, including Port of Portland, are in the EPA’s Green Power Partnership, the Port of Vancouver is the only port in the United States that is included among the Leadership Club.

“From an environmental and business standpoint, this is something that really makes sense for us to do,” said the port’s Executive Director Larry Paulson. “When we put together our 2008 budget, we planned to purchase a certain amount of our energy exclusively from wind energy developments in the Pacific Northwest.

“Our environmental services staff did a significant amount of ‘shopping’ the different options available on the market, and we’re very happy to have found everything we wanted at a price that allows us to be in a very special place of leadership, and to accomplish all of our goals for this purchase,” said Paulson, who is also a member of Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire’s Climate Advisory Team. “Through this purchase, the Port of Vancouver is taking the responsibility for its share of carbon dioxide emissions and is committed to being part of the solution to climate change.”

When the port launched its green energy program, the criteria set by the environmental team included: a choice to focus totally on wind energy that is generated exclusively in the Pacific Northwest; to take a national leadership position in the purchase of green energy within the industry; and to maximize the dollars available for green energy purchase.

The port found it could accomplish all of those goals with Green Mountain Energy, and is spending $18,018 to purchase the RECs that support the environmental attributes associated with the generation of electricity from wind turbines in the Pacific Northwest. That led to a one-year agreement with Green Mountain Energy – an arrangement that will be reviewed on an annual basis.

It’s a substantial move to prove that the port supports wind energy development, not just from the standpoint that it is a leading port of entry for wind energy components, but also to prove that the port is committed to its environmental stewardship principals.

“We are excited about our purchase of green energy. Reducing our carbon footprint is an important component of our sustainability program,” said the port’s Director of Environmental Services Patty Boyden. “The purchase is built for annual reviews, and we will continue to look at other strong options.”

The Port of Vancouver imported 305 complete wind turbines and an additional 102 towers in 2007, which demanded more than 72,000 Longshore work hours during the year. Wind energy cargo at the port has grown dramatically since 2005, when the port handled 83 complete turbines for a project near Dayton, Wash., and has become an important part of the port’s cargo mix.

In terms of environmental stewardship, the Port of Vancouver is among the leading ports. The port has already converted its diesel equipment to Biodiesel. The port is also heavily invested in environmental cleanups includ